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Grand Design of Henry IV.
Memoirs of Maximilian de Bethune
due de Sully (1559=1641).
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Grand Design of Henry IV.
Memoirs of Maximilien de Bethune
due de Sully (1559=1641).
WITH AN INTRODUCTION
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THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENW IV:
Schemes for securing perpetual peace generally have for their
authors either philosophers (such as Bentham and Kant) or
accomplished scholars (like Pope Leo X.) or idealist statesmen
(e.g., President Wilson), but rarely financiers. The realm of
finance is an uncongenial one for the altruist and the day-dreamer ;
the uncompromising, the matter-of-fact, and, perhaps, the un-
exuberant are likely to be its most flourishing types. There is,
however, one striking exception to this generalisation. Maximilian
of Bethune, Duke of Sully (1559 1641), acquired considerable
reputation as Henry IV. 's Superintendent of Finance after he had
laid the foundations of a very large private fortune from booty
appropriated in the troublous times preceding the accession of his
royal master. His task as finance minister was a herculean one,
since not only had he to find new sources of revenue, increase the
prosperity of France by devising new roads and canals, and
redeem many Crown lands and prerogatives from pawn, but he
had also to reorganise the whole system of tax-collecting and,
perhaps most difficult of all, to refuse all grants of money to the
monarch that were likely to be spent in private pleasure. That
imagination was not Sully 's strongest characteristic is shown by
the fact that he was the first Chancellor of the Exchequer who
could boast that his budgets were honest. Avarice, austerity, and
shrewdness were the qualities attributed to him by contem-
poraries; and in his Memoirs he shows that he was quite
aware of his reputation. It is therefore a remarkable fact that
he should himself have been the author of one of the most
imaginative and comprehensive schemes for securing what so
4 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
many have regarded as a mere chimera; and it is perhaps
evidence of his consciousness of this seeming inconsistency that
he took great pains to father the scheme on someone else.
Before examining the Grand Design in detail, it is necessary to
say something of the history of the book, a part of which is here
After the* murder* "of" Henry IV., Sully went into retirement;
find Itidvfeii"- "Allying A ne .minority of Louis XIII. there were
a few occasions "wrien he might have been invited to return
to public life, he was nevertheless condemned to political
inactivity for over thirty years. Like St. Simon after him, he
employed a considerable part of his enforced leisure in compiling
his Memoirs, and, like St. Simon also, he adopted a consistent
attitude of " laudator temporis acti." He had always prided
himself on his literary skill. During the lifetime of Henry he had
completed a biography of that monarch, and in retirement he
wrote several treatises on miscellaneous subjects. With the aid
of one of his secretaries, he began, about 1611, to draw up his
Memoires, or Oeconomies Royales d'Estat, and these were
at first compiled in the second person, the secretary calling to
mind the many achievements of Sully 's administration. In this,
the original form, they were completed by about 1617, and the
manuscripts were acquired by the Bibliotheque Nationale in 1843.
These manuscripts contain six or seven references to what has
been called the Grand Design, and a brief enumeration of these
will reveal the scheme in embryo (a).
The first reference is under the year 1596, just after the sub-
mission of D'Epernon and when Henry's victory over his enemies
of the League was practically complete. According to Sully, Henry
took him aside and confessed that he hoped God would enable him
to retake Navarre, that he would be granted a victory against the
King of Spain, that he might, in some way, surpass the deeds of
Don John of Austria, the victor of Lepanto, and that he might be
relieved of his wife. He referred also to two great projects which
he wished to put into execution before his death, but these are
not specified by his biographer. The next reference in the MSS.
is in connection with Sully 's embassy to England in 1603, when
(a) For a complete examination of these MSS., see the articles by Pfister in
Revue Historique, 1894, Vols. LIV., LV., and LVI.
he was sent to congratulate James on his accession. On this
occasion Henry is credited with telling his ambassador that he
wished to ally with England, Venice, the Low Countries, the
Protestant princes and towns of Germany against Spain, and that
for this purpose he wished to effect a marriage alliance with
England. Together with these public instructions, Sully, accord-
ing to his own account, was given certain secret commissions,
and, in particular, was to confer with the English king on the
following proposals :
1. France, England, and Holland to combine their naval forces
and seize the Spanish Indies or some of the islands on the routes
of the Spanish treasure fleets.
2. The Hapsburgs, by the pressure of a great European
coalition, to be deprived of the Empire and reduced to Spain.
3. The rivers Meuse, Moselle, and Ehine to be seized so as to
control the Low Countries.
With regard to the proposed coalition against the Hapsburgs,
Sully notes that all the participants were to benefit territorially
except France and England.
The third reference is in 1604, when Sully records that he
refused Henry a grant of public money for his pleasures on the
ground that every penny would be required for the Grand Design.
In 1609 there is a further allusion to the scheme when, in com-
pliance with a request for an inventory of fortresses and troops,
Sully proposed that two objects of policy should be, first, to
transfer the Empire to some family other than the Hapsburgs,
and, second, to confine the Hapsburgs to Spain. When, in this
year, the Cleves-Julich succession question became acute, Sully
relates that he encouraged Henry to commence hostilities, the
French king having now secured the alliance of Savoy, Venice,
the German princes, and the Low Countries, and having at his
disposal an army of 150,000 men. The last reference is in 1610,
when Sully is asked to put his proposals on record. This he does
by enumerating all the alliances already formed against Spain, and
suggests a scheme for dividing captured territory among the allies
when the Hapsburgs shall have met with their inevitable defeat.
Such is the account of the Grand Design as given by Sully
6 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
shortly after his retirement. As it stands, it contains several
inconsistencies and inventions : in particular, the account of the
embassy of 1603 is more imaginative than historical. The letters
reproduced, in the manuscript edition, to authenticate this mission
are fabrications (b), and the secret instructions never existed but
in the mind of Sully. It will be noticed also that in this account
responsibility for the scheme is at one time attributed to the
monarch, at another time to the minister. But, on the whole,
the scheme as thus evolved is not unhistorical. Henry IV.
certainly did meditate great designs against the Hapsburgs: he
was at pains to build up a system of European alliances, and had
he been spared the knife of Ravaillac he might have lived to see
the downfall of the Empire. There is indeed ample contemporary
evidence that such a general policy was attributed to him. There
exists in manuscript (c) an account of a conversation between
Henry and Lesdiguieres on October 17, 1609. In this account,
Henry confessed that he still felt young, and that he hoped God
would give him other ten years to complete his work. He
compared himself to an architect who has laid the foundations
and must leave to a successor the completion of the edifice. He
wished the Dauphin to marry a daughter of the Duke of Lorraine
and his eldest daughter to marry a prince of Savoy. To the idea
of a Spanish marriage he declared himself resolutely opposed,
believing that no marriage policy could ever remove the menace
to France of Spanish ascendancy, since " the rise of the one must
inevitably be the ruin of the other." Finally, he hoped for the
day when there would be but one religion in France, though for
the present he was content to use Protestants as well as
Catholics. Numerous references of this kind are to be found in
seventeenth-century books. The Journal of Bassompierre, the
Histoire Universelle of Agrippa d'Aubigne*, and the Memoirs
attributed to Richelieu (d) and Fontenay-Mareuil (e) allude to
(b) This has been conclusively shown by the independent researches of Pfister
(c) Affaires Etrangeres France, 767, f. 5, quoted in Hanotaux, Histoire du
Cardinal de Richelieu, Vol. I., p. 260.
(d) Eichelieu, or the scribe employed to compile his Memoires, notes that
in 1610 Henry IV. was in his fifty-eighth year, and that his age was therefore
the most serious obstacle to the Grand Design (Richelieu, Memoires, ed.
Michaud et Poujoulat, pp. 12 16).
ie) Memoires (ed. Michaud et Poujoulat, pp. 9 12).
such designs and credit Henry IV. with the ambition of raising
France, on the ruins of the Hapsburg Empire, to a commanding
position in Europe. Matthieu, in his Histoire de Henri IV.
(1631) says of him: " Sans les inndelite"s frangaises, il eusj) fait
une partie du monde francais, comme Probus 1'avait fait remain."
As thus stated, the Grand Design resolves itself into little
more than a historical truism. Ascendancy in the councils
of Europe had traditionally been associated with the country
which produced such monarchs as- Philip Augustus, St. Louis,
Philip the Fair, and Louis XII., and the lead taken by
France in the Crusades had helped to confirm this political pre-
eminence. As early as the fourteenth century, a French jurist (/)
had affirmed that supremacy in the affairs of Europe belonged to
the French monarchy by a kind of natural right, " ex natives
pronitatis ad melius jure." In the fifteenth century, George
Podiebrad, King of Bohemia (1420 1471), evolved a scheme for
maintaining European tranquillity '(g), and addressed himself first
of all to the King of France, believing that his approval was the
chief preliminary requisite for the success of such schemes. But
Louis XI was a poor patron, benefiting more by the strife of his
neighbours than by their concord. The years of anarchy and
dynastic war following on the reigns of Louis XII.- and Francis I.
deprived French kings of their birthright. With the restoration
of France under the great king Henry IV., it was not unnatural
that the tradition should be revived.
In this revival, there was a recrudescence of the old crusading
spirit. French policy since the time of Francis I. had tended to
an alliance with the Turk, whose fleets frequently harried
Hapsburg possessions on the Mediterranean coasts, and for this
reason it is unlikely that Henry himself ever meditated any
serious designs against the Turks. But nevertheless he was
probably familiar with the plan for a crusade proposed in 1609 by
a Greek Minotto (h). During^the minority of Louis XIII., such
proposals take a more concrete form. The Duke of Nevers,
(/) Jean of Jandun.
(g) The scheme was drawn up by Marini in De Unione Christianorum contra
Turcas. See Ter Meulen, Der Gedanke der Internationalen Organisation,
(h) Cf. Zinkeisen, Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches, III. 859.
8 THE GRAND DESIGN OP HENRY IV.
induced by the promises of the Greeks, actually inaugurated such
a crusade, with the help and good will of France, but the attempt
proved abortive. A French ambassador (i) in Constantinople
compiled a Short Discourse on the Surest Means of Ruining the
Ottoman Empire. Father Joseph Richelieu's understudy and
prompter meditated for long the project of expelling the Turks
from Europe, and even composed a Turciade. At the time when
Sully was compiling his Memoirs, a crusade against the infidel
was so far from being a fantastic scheme as to be almost a common-
place of politics.
If it be added that the career of Eichelieu must have proved an
inspiration to a man of Sully 's type, we shall have completed our
enumeration of the contemporary influences that are evident in
the first and manuscript edition of the Memoirs. Richelieu
revived and amplified the policy of Henry IV., which had been
set aside during the regency of Marie de Medicis. Before his
death in 1643, the prerogatives of the Empire had been con-
siderably diminished, Spain had become almost isolated, the
Hapsburgs were being forced back on their hereditary lands, and
French gold was already corrupting the German princes,
Protestant and Catholic alike. In a measure it is true to say that
the real Grand Design was the inspiration and achievement of
Richelieu, and it is noteworthy that the later edition of Sully 's
Memoirs the only edition that was printed was prepared in
the period between 1620 and 1635, when the career of the great
minister was of surpassing interest to every patriotic Frenchman,
and especially to one imbued, as was Sully, with the glorious
traditions of the reign of Henry IV.
Thus, despite certain inaccuracies and inconsistencies, the
original draft of Sully 's Memoirs, so far from containing any
fanciful scheme for remaking the map of Europe and introducing
an era of perpetual peace, simply reflects the dynastic ambitions
of the Bourbons as pursued by Henri IV. and Richelieu. But
after 1617 Sully returned to his 'memoir- writing and, whether
because of impaired mental and moral powers or whether because
events seemed to be leading to the complete victory of
France, he made very important changes in the revised version.
(i) De Br&ves, Discours abrege des asveurez moyens de miner la monarchic
des princes Ottomans (n. d).
Imagination now freely supplements fact, documentary evidence
is carefully forged wherever it might help to give an appearance
of verisimilitude, and, quite unconscious of discrepancies and
inconsistencies, a far more wonderful Grand Design is evolved.
To complete the illusion, Henry IV. is declared its author as the
scheme seems more befitting a -great monarch than a cautious
financier. It is this revised version that was printed (the first part
in 1638, the second part in 1662), and one reason for Sully deciding
to make this version public may have been his desire to be revenged
on Scipion Dupleix, who, in his official history of Henry's reign,
had carefully underestimated the part played by Sully. In these
printed texts, the Grand Design appears only in scattered
fragments, but, nevertheless, so fully and carefully were they
"documented" that most contemporary readers were led to
believe that Henry IV. really had entertained a scheme for
securing the peace of Europe. The genuineness of the printed
Memoirs was explicitly affirmed by Hardouin de Per^fixe in
1661 (fc), and the only pre-nineteenth-century writers who
expressed their doubts were Vittorio Siri (I) and St. Simon (w).
It is therefore hardly to be wondered at that in the eighteenth
century a period as uncritical as the seventeenth is pedantic*
the Memoirs of Sully were accepted at their face value. Voltaire
expressly commended the writings of Sully and Perefixe as
reliable accounts of Henry's reign (n). The Abbe de St. Pierre
based his " Projet de Paix Perpetuelle " on the assumption that
the Grand Design was authentic. The finishing touch was given
in 1745, when the Abbe de 1'Ecluse des Loges published a new
edition of the Memoirs, in which all the scattered fragments
relating to the Grand Design were collected together and put
into one chapter at the end (numbered XXX.); In doing this, the
Abbe was taking an unwarrantable liberty with his text, for Sully
had never presented the scheme as a consistent whole; but
undoubtedly this helped to popularise the supposed plan of a
popular king. By 1778 this compilation had gone through five
(k) Histoire du Roi Henri le Grand, Amsterdam, 1661, p. 383.
(1) Memorie Recondite (1677), Vol. I., p. 29. According to Siri, Sully 's
Memoirs are " sparse di chimere e inverisimili."
(m) ParalUle des trois premiers rois Bourbons (ed. Faugere, pp. 137 145).
(n) Essai sur les mceurs et V esprit des nations, Chapter CLfXXIV.
10 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
editions, and, as thus presented, the Grand Design was elevated
to the level of a philosophical system. Rousseau said that it
was not good enough for Europe, because Europe was not good,
enough for it (o) ; and even Bentham may have been sub-
consciously influenced when he entrusted the inauguration of his
European fraternity of utilitarian States to the combined
influence of France and England. Echoes of Sully may be
detected here and there in Kant. The direct inspiration of
Sully can be traced in the peace projects of more obscure writers,
from the Englishman Bellers (p) and the German Rachel (q) to
the Frenchman Saintard (r). The scheme attributed to Cardinal
Alberoni is little more than a plagiarism. Sully 's "Grand Design"
is thus the starting-point of many of the schemes which have since
been put forward for establishing European peace, and this because
it was the first proposal, based on considerable knowledge of
European politics, which accepted facts and which presupposed
that peace may be not only a moral ideal but a practical blessing.
If States can no longer be influenced by religion, they may yet be
persuaded by political economy. That is the measure of Sully 's
difference from his predecessors and the reason for his influence
in later times.
.TJ The Grand Design is based on two things an acceptance, so
far as possible, of the status quo, and an appeal to the innate-
selfishness of man. The three standard religions (Catholic,
Lutheran, and Calvinist) are admitted ; the constitutional forms,
whether monarchical or republican, of the European States are
accepted as standards, and thus there is to be a minimum of
dislocation when Europe is united in the great federation of
hereditary monarchies, elective monarchies, and republics. There
is, moreover, evidence of some historical insight in the details of
the scheme. Holland and Switzerland are to be confirmed in their
republican traditions; Italy is to be freed from the foreigner.
The Pope is to become a secular prince an intelligent apprecia-
tion of some later papal developments; and the Duchy of Savoy
is to be made a monarchy perhaps the earliest anticipation of
(o) In his Essay on St. Pierre's Projet de Paix Perpetuelle.
(p) Some reasons for an European State Proposed to the Powers of Europe,
(q) De Jure Natures et Gentium Dissertationes, 1676.
(r) Roman Politique sur Vetat present des affaires de VAmerique, 1757.
the great destiny in store for that house. Kussia is considered as
a power which might more legitimately develop in Asia than in
Europe, and as, in any case, too risky a speculation for European
investment. As intelligent knowledge of contemporary Europe
is the basis of the scheme, so the inducement for prospective
partners is one which even the most bellicose could scarcely
refuse the promise of additional territory, and this at the
expense of the House of Austria. It does not occur to Sully that
by dividing up Hapsburg territory he might create a permanent
tradition of revanche. The military forces of this great European
confederacy are to be directed to one object the expulsion of the
Turk from Europe.
Within this confederation there would be freedom of commerce,
and supreme control would be vested in a senate of about sixty-six
persons elected every three years from the participating States,
a certain number of representatives being assigned to each. There
would be subordinate and local assemblies : the decisions of the
general senate only would be "final and irrevocable decrees."
The Grand Design has for its backing a composite army, but
whether this would be permanent and employed to enforce, if
necessary, the decisions of the League, is not quite clear from
Sully 's preference for a city of Central Europe as the permanent
seat of the senate's activities is noteworthy as, in some respects,
an anticipation of the part to be played in later irenist ideals by
the Germanic Confederation. Within a few years of his death,
the League of the Rhine, in attempting to revive something of
German nationalism, attempted also to create a guarantee for the
peace of Europe by uniting (with German princes) that power
which was most likely to have " annexationist " designs (at
German expense), and whose ambitions might thus be neutralised
by compact rather than by challenge. Throughout the eighteenth
century, indeed, the very existence of the Germanic Confedera-
tion was regarded as making for European peace. Its geographical
position was held to impose a restraint on ambitious neighbours,
and at least one observer maintained that its weight secured that
equilibrium to which, despite wars, Europe was (in this view)
always automatically restored. It is not less noteworthy that,
12 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
of the German States, Prussia was considered the most important
as a model of good government and as the strongest rivet in this
great bulwark against anarchy and aggression. Mirabeau (s)
wrote: "Si la Prusse perit, Tart de gouverner retournera vers
1'enfance"; and his admiration was shared by French political
thinkers from Voltaire to Rousseau.
It is thus in. its concreteness and in its anticipation of several
later doctrines of importance that Sully 's Grand Design is of most
interest to the modern Student of international relations. To
criticise it in points of detail would scarcely be fair, especially
as the scheme was only gradually evolved and was never reduced
by its author to a studied form. No doubt one of the weakest
parts of the Design is that the_Senate merely an echo of the
Imperial Diet would lose its authority as soon as litigants found
that it was not in their interests to obey its behests, but the same
weakness may be detected in some more modern projects. More-
over, there is an appeal to base motives in the inception of the
scheme, the participants, with the possible exception of France
and England, being brought together by the promise of shares in
an Empire about to be dismembered. But Sully may have
regarded that as means to an end and, like a true optimist, he
may have hoped that once his League was established it would,
by a gradual and educative process, eliminate rapacity and
aggression from international politics. For it is Sully 's greatest
merit that he preached certain truths, a respect for which in the
minds of responsible statesmen might have saved Europe from
many years of disaster and crime. Long before Montesquieu and
Bousseau this austere Huguenot proclaimed that the happiness
and success of a nation may be in inverse ratio to its territorial
extent (t), that wars of aggrandisement defeat their own object,
and that in great European struggles the plight of the victor may
be at least as unhappy as that of the conquered (u). Who can
say that these axioms have yet been understood by those who are
(s) In the conclusion to his Monarchic Prussienne.
(t) See infra, p. 24.
(u) Cf. Memoirs, Bk. IX. (1598). "I am not afraid to say that in the
present state of Europe it is almost equally unhappy for its princes to succeed
or miscarry in their enterprises, and that the true way of weakening a powerful
neighbour is not to carry off his spoils but to leave them to be shared by
entrusted with the direction of international policy in Europe?
Who can dispel from our minds the nightmare of a future world-
war of revanche or territorial greed? Sully 's Grand Design is
unsound, unhistorical, and out-of-date, but it is because it has
still some lessons for a world grown sick of war that its reprint
here may be justified.
The text used in this reprint is that of the eighteenth -century
English translation (6 vols., London, 1778, and Dublin, 1781).
This text was reprinted with a few changes in Bonn's series
(4 vols., 1892), and it should be noted that the chapter here
reprinted (numbered XXX.) is the composite chapter first inserted
by the Abbe de 1'Ecluse des Loges in his edition of 1745. It is
through this composite chapter that the Grand Design is most
familiar to modern times, and so it has been reprinted here. A
few minor changes have been made in the English version where
it seemed obscure, even at the expense of giving a somewhat free
translation of the original. The eighteenth -century footnotes
(mostly valueless) have been omitted and a few elementary notes
inserted in their place.
A. Editions of the Memoirs.
1. Memoires des sages et royales oeconomdes d'Estat domes-
tiques, politiques et militaires de Henry le Grand.
Vols. I. and II., (Chateau de Sully). 1638.
2. Ibid. Vols. III. and IV. Paris, 1662. Two volumes in one.
3. Ibid. 8 vols. Kouen, 1663.
4. Ibid. 4 vols. Paris, 1664.
5. Memoires de Maximilian de Bethune, due de Sully . . .
mis en ordre avec des remarques par M.L.D.L.D.L.
[Abbe de 1'Ecluse des Loges.] London, 3 vols. (Sub-
sequent editions in 1747 (3 vols.), 1752 (8 vols.), 1778
(10 vols.), and 1778 (revised, 8 vols.).
6. Memoires du Due de Sully. Paris, 1822. 6 vols.
7. Memoires des sages et royales oeconomies d'Estat, domes-
tiques, politiques et militaires de Henry le Grand (in
Michaud et Poujoulat, " Nouvelle Collection des
Memoires pour servir a I'histoire de France," 2nd series,
Vols. II. and III). Paris, 1850.
16 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
B. Monographs relating to the Grand Design.
1. MORITZ HITTER. Die Memoiren Sully s und der grosst'-
Plan Heinrichs IV. (in Abhandlungen der historischen
Classe der kgl. bayerischen Akademie der Wissen-
schaften. Bd. XI. Abth. III., 1870).
2. CORNELIUS. Der Grosse Plan Heinrichs IV. von Frankreich.
(" Miinchener Historischer Jahrbuch," 1886).
3. T. KUKELHAUS. Der Ursprung des Planes vom ewigen
Frieden. Berlin, 1892.
4. C. PFISTER. Les Oeconomies Royales de Sully (in " Eevue
Historique "). Vols. 5456. 1894.
C. General Works for Reference.
1. LAVISSE. Histoire de France. Vol. VI., Part 2.
2. HANOTAUX. Histoire du Cardinal de Richelieu. 2 vols.
3. FAGNIEZ. Le Pere Joseph et Richelieu. 1894.
4. TER MEULEN. Der Gedanke der International en Organisa-
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY.
WHEREIN is DISCUSSED THE POLITICAL SCHEME,
THE GREAT DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
As this part of these Memoirs will be chiefly taken up with an
account of the great design of Henry IV. or 'the political scheme,
by which he proposed to govern, not only France, but all
Europe, it may not be improper to begin it with some general
reflections on the French monarchy and on the Roman empire.
We know that on the ruins of the Roman empire were formed
not only the French but all the other powers comprising the
If we consider all those successive changes which Rome has
suffered from the year of its foundation, its infancy, youth and
virility ; its declension, fall and final ruin ; these vicissitudes, which
it experienced in common with the great monarchies by which
it was preceded, would almost incline one to believe that empires,
like all other sublunary things, are subject to be the sport and at
last to sink under the pressure of time. Extending this idea still
further, we perceive that all states are liable to be disturbed in
their careers by certain extraordinary incidents which might be
termed epidemic disorders. These frequently hasten the destruc-
tion of empires and, their cure by this discovery becoming easier,
we may at least save some of them from catastrophes so fatal.
But if we endeavour to discover more visible and natural
causes of the ruin of this vast and formidable empire, we shall
perhaps soon perceive they were produced by a deviation from
those wise laws and that simplicity of manners, which were the
18 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
origin of all its grandeur, into luxury, avarice and ambition.
Yet there was, finally, another cause, the effect of which could
hardly have been prevented or foreseen by the utmost human
wisdom ; I mean, the irruptions of those vast bodies of barbarous
people, Goths, Vandals, Huns, Herulians, Rugians, Lombards,
&c. from whom, both separately and united, the Roman empire
received such violent shocks that it was at last overthrown by
them. Rome was three times sacked by these Barbarians; under
Honorius, by Alaric, chief of the Goths; by Genseric, king of the
Vandals, under Martin; and under Justinian, by Totila and the
Goths. Now if it be true that, after this, the city retained only
the shadow of what she had been; if we must regard her as
divested of the empire of the world, when her weakness and the
abuses of her government made her fall to be looked upon, not
simply as inevitable, but as very near, and, in fact, already
arrived ; the date of her fall may then be marked long before the
reign of Valentinian III. to whom it will be doing a favour to
call him the last emperor of the West. For several of those
emperors whom he succeeded were, in reality, no better than
tyrants, by whom the empire was torn and divided, and the
shattered remnants left to be the spoil of the Barbarians, who,
indeed, by their conquests, acquired an equal right to them.
Rome, nevertheless, by intervals, beheld some faint appearances
of a revival; those of which she was most sensible were under
the reign of the great Constantine, whose victories once more
united this Vast body under one head. But when he transported
the seat of his empire from Rome to Constantinople, he, by that
step, contributed more to the destruction of a work which had
cost him so much labour than all the ill conduct of his pre-
decessors had been able to effect; and this even he rendered
irremediable, by dividing his empire equally between his three
sons. Theodosius, who by good fortune, or from his great valour,
found himself in the same circumstances with Constantine,
would not perhaps have committed the same fault, had he not
been influenced by the force of Constantine's example; but this
in a manner necessarily obliged him to divide his empire in two ;
Arcadius had the East, Honorius the West : and from that time
there never were any hopes nor opportunity of reuniting them.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 19
According to the order of nature, by which the destruction of
one kingdom becomes the instrument for the production of others ;
so, in proportion as the most distant members of the empire of
the East fell off from it, from thence there arose kingdoms;
though indeed they did not at first bear that rank. The most
ancient of these (its origin appearing to have been in the eighth
year of the empire of Honorius) is undoubtedly that which was
founded in Gaul by the French, so called from Franconia, from
whence they were invited by the "Gauls, inhabitants of the
countries about the Moselle, to assist them in their deliverance
from the oppression of the Roman armies. It being a custom
among these Franks or French, to confer the title of king upon
whatever person they chose to be their leader; if the first or
second of these chiefs have not borne it, it is certain, at least,
that the third, Merovius, and more particularly Clovis, who was
the fifth, were invested with it. Some of them supported the
royal title with so much glory, including Pepin and Charles
Martel (to whom it would be doing an injustice to refuse this
dignity), that their worthy successor Charlemagne, in Gaul,
revived an imperfect image of the now extinguished empire in the
West. This indeed was facilitated by those natural advantages
France enjoys of numerous inhabitants trained to war and a great
plenty of all things serving the different necessities of life, joined
to a very great conveniency for commerce, arising from its
situation, rendering it the centre of four of the principal powers
of Europe; Germany, Italy, Spain, and Britain, with the Low
Let us here just say one word upon the three races which
compose the succession of our kings : in the first of them I find
only Merovius, Clovis I. and Clovis II. ; Charles Martel, Pippin
the Short, and Charlemagne in the second, who have raised them-
selves above the common level of their race. Take away these
six from the thirty-five, which we compute in these two races,
and all the rest, from their vices or their incapacity, appeared
to have been either wicked kings, or but the shadow of kings;
though among them we may distinguish some good qualities in
Sigebert and Dagobert, and a very great devotion in Lewis
the Debonnair, which, however, ended in his repenting the
20 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENEY IV.
loss of empire and his kingdom, together with his liberty, in a
The Carlovingian race having reigned obscurely, the crown
then descended upon a third (a); the four first kings of which, in
my opinion, appear to have been perfect models of wise and good
government. The kingdom which came under their dominion
had lost much of its original splendour, for from its immense
extent in the time of Charlemagne, it was reduced to nearly
the same bounds which it has at this day. There was this
difference, however, that though these kings might have desired
to restore the ancient limits of their territories, they had no means
of doing so, since the form of government was such that the
monarchs were subject to the great men of the realm who had a
right to choose and even govern their sovereigns. The conduct
therefore which they pursued w r as to condemn arbitrary power
to an absolute silence; and, in its place, to substitute equity
itself : a kind of dominion which never excites envy. Nothing
now was done without the consent of the great men and the
principal cities, and almost always in consequence of the decision
of an assembly of the estates. A conduct so moderate and
prudent put an end to all factions, and stifled all conspiracies,
which are fatal to -the state or the sovereign. Regularity,
economy, a distinction of merit, strict observance of justice, all
the virtues which we suppose necessary qualifications for the good
of a family, were what characterized this new government, and
produced what was never before beheld, and what perhaps we
may never see again, an uninterrupted peace (b) for one hundred
and twenty-two years. What the Capetians gained by this for
themselves was the advantage of introducing into their house a
jreditary right to the crown, and this could never have been pro-
cured for them by the sole authority of the Salic law. But they
nevertheless thought it a necessary precaution not to declare their
eldest sons for their successors till they had modestly asked the
consent of the people, preceding it by a kind of election, usually
having them crowned in their own life-time and seated with them
upon the throne.
(a) That is, the Capetian race.
(b) The period between the accession of Hugh Capet (987) and that of
Louis VI. (1108).
MEMOIRS CF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 21
Philip II. whom Lewis VII. his father caused to be crowned,
and reign with him in this manner was the first who neglected to
observe this ceremony between the sovereign and his people.
Several victories, obtained over his neighbours and subjects
having gained him the surname of Augustus, served to open him
a passage to absolute power, and a notion of the fitness and
legality of this power, by the assistance of favourites, ministers
and others, became afterwards so strongly imprinted in his
successors, that they looked upon it as a mark of good policy to
act contrary to those maxims, the general and particular utility
of which had been so effectually confirmed by the experience of
his predecessors. And this they did without any fear or perhaps
without any conception of the fatal consequences which such a
proceeding must necessarily incur at the hands of a nation which
adores its liberty. This they might have deduced from the means
to which the people had immediate recourse when they saw their
liberties threatened. The kings could never obtain of their people
any other than that kind of constrained obedience which always
inclines them to embrace with eagerness all opportunities of
mutiny. This was the source of a thousand bloody wars : that
by which almost all France was ravaged by the English; that
which we had with Italy, Burgundy, Spain. All of them can be
attributed to no other causes than the civil dissensions by which
they were preceded and here the weakest side, stifling the
voice of honour, and the interest of the nation, constantly called
in foreigners to assist them in the support of their tottering
liberties. These were shameful and fatal remedies : but from
that time they were constantly employed, down even to our
times, by the house of Lorraine, in a league, for which religion
was nothing more than the pretence (c). Another evil, which may
at first appear to be of a different kind, but which, in my opinion,
proceeds from the same source, was a general corruption of
manners, a thirst for riches and a most shameful degree of
(c) Sully may here be thinking of the affair of the bishopric of Strasburg
(1595). In that year Henry, as arbitrator, divided the episcopal domains
between the Protestant Elector of Brandenburg and the Catholic Charles of
Lorraine. The latter refused to adhere to this, and, by appointing as his
coadjutor the Archduke Leopold, cousin of the Emperor Kudolph, was bidding
for the support of France's enemy.
22 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
luxury: these, sometimes separately, and sometimes united, were
alternate causes and effects of many of our miseries.
Thus, in a few words, I have exposed the various species of
our bad policy with respect both to the form of the government,
successively subjected to the will of the people, the soldiers, the
nobles, the states and the kings, and in regard to the persons
likewise of these last, whether dependent, elective, hereditary,
From the picture here laid before us we may be enabled to
form our judgment upon the third race of our kings : we may find
a thousand things to admire in Philip Augustus, Saint-Lewis,
Philip le Bel, Charles the Wise, Charles VII. and Lewis XII.
But it is to be lamented that so many virtues or great qualities
have been exercised upon no better principles ; with what pleasure
might we- bestow upon them the titles of great kings, could we
but conceal that their people were miserable : what might we not,
in particular, say of Lewis IX. ? Of the forty-four years which
he reigned, the first twenty of them exhibit a scene not unworthy
of comparison with the last eleven of Henry the Great. But I
am afraid all their glory will appear to have been destroyed in the
twenty-four following; wherein it appears that the excessive
taxes upon the subjects, to satisfy an ill-judged and destructive
devotion; immense sums transported into the most distant
countries, for the ransom of prisoners; so many thousand subjects
sacrificed ; so many illustrious houses extinguished ; caused a
universal mourning throughout France, and altogether a general
Let us for once, if it is possible, fix our principles; and being,
from long experience, convinced that the happiness of mankind
can never arise from war (of which we ought to have been
persuaded long ago), let us upon this principle take a cursory
View of the history of our monarchy. We will pass by the wars
of Clovis and his predecessors, because they seem to have been
in some degree necessary to confirm the recent foundations of the
monarchy: but what shall we say of those wars in which the
four sons of Clovis, the four sons of Clotaire I. and their descend-
ants were engaged, during the uninterrupted course of one
hundred and sixty years? and of those also, by which, for the
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 23
space of on hundred seventy-two other years, commencing with
Lewis le Debonnaire, the kingdom was harassed and torn? What
follows is still worse. The slightest knowledge of our history is"
sufficient to convince any one that there was no real tranquillity
in the kingdom from Henry III. to the peace of Vervins : and, in\
short, all this long period may be called a, war of nearly four \
hundred years' duration (d). After this examination (from
whence it incontestibly appears that our kings have seldom
thought of any thing but how to carry on their wars) we cannot
but be scrupulous in bestowing on them the title of Truly Great
kings; though we shall, nevertheless, render them all the justice
which appears to have been their due. For I confess (as indeed
it would be unjust to attribute to them alone, a crime which was
properly that of all Europe) that several of these princes were
sometimes in such circumstances as rendered the wars just, and
even necessary : and from hence, when indeed there were no other
means to obtain it, they acquired a true and lasting glory. More-
over, from the manner in which several of these wars were
foreseen, prepared for and conducted, we may in their councils
discover such master-strokes of policy, and in their persons such
noble instances of courage, as are deserving of our highest praises.
From whence then can proceed the error of so many exploits, in
appearance so glorious, though the effect of them has generally
been the devastation both of France and all Europe? I repeat it
again, of all Europe, which even yet seems scarce sensible that
in her present situation, a situation in which she has been for
several centuries, every attempt tending to her subjection,
or only to the too considerably augmenting of any one of her
principal monarchies at the expense of the others, can never be
any other than a chimerical and impossible enterprise. There are
none of these monarchies but whose destruction would require a
concurrence of causes infinitely superior to all human force. The
whole, therefore, of what seems proper and necessary to be done,
is to support them all in a, kind of equilibrium; and whatever
prince thinks, and in consequence acts otherwise, may indeed
(d) Including the twenty-two years between the accession of Henri III. and
the Peace of Vervins, this gives a total period of 354 years.
24 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
cause torrents of blood to flow through all Europe, but he will
never be able to change her form.
When I observed that the extent of France is not now so
considerable as it was in the time of Charlemagne, my intention
was not that this diminution should be considered as a mis-
fortune. In an age when we feel the sad effects of having had
ambitious princes for our kings, were all to concur in flattering
this fatal ambition, it would be the cause of still greater evils;
and it may be generally observed that the larger the extent of
kingdoms, the more they are subject to great revolutions and
misfortunes (e). The basis of the tranquillity of our own country,
in particular, depends upon preserving it within its present limits.
A climate, laws, manners, and language, different from our own;
seas, and chains of mountains almost inaccessible, are all so many
barriers, which we may consider as fixed even by nature. Besides,
what is it that France wants ! will she not always be the richest
-, and most powerful kingdom in Europe? It must be granted.
.All therefore which the French have to wish or desire is that
Heaven grant them pious, good, and wise kings; and that these
kings may employ their power in preserving the peace of Europe ;
for no other enterprise can truly be to them either profitable or
And this explains to us the nature of the design which
Henry IV. was on the point of putting in execution when it
pleased God to take him to Himself, too soon by some years for
the happiness of the world. From hence likewise we may
perceive the motives of his pursuing a conduct so opposite to
any thing that had hitherto been undertaken by crowned heads :
and here we may behold what it was that acquired him the title
of Great. His designs were not inspired by a mean and despic-
able ambition, nor guided by base and partial interests : to render
France happy for ever was his desire, and she cannot perfectly
enjoy this felicity, unless all Europe likewise partake of it. So
(e) Cf. Montesquieu : " Si une republique est petite, elle est deiruite par une
force trangere ; si elle est grande, elle se detruit par une vice interieure "
(De I'Esprit des Lois, IX. 1); Eousseau : " De deux etats qui nourrissent
le meme nombre d 'habitants, celui qui occupe une moindre etendue de terre est
reellement le plus puissant" (Projet de Paix Perpetuelle) ; and Volney :
" Ce sont les grands e'tats qui ont perdu les moeurs et la liberte des peuples "
(Considerations sur la guerre actuelle des Turcs).
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 25
it was the happiness of Europe in general which he laboured to
procure, and this in a manner so solid and durable, that nothing
should afterwards be able to shake its foundations.
I must confess I am under some apprehensions, lest this
scheme should at first be considered as one of those chimeras, or
idle political speculations, in which a mind susceptible of strange
and singular ideas may be so easily engaged. Those who shall
thus think of it must be that sort of people on whom first
impressions have the force of truth; or those, who by their
distance from the times, and their ignorance of the circumstances,
confound the wisest and noblest enterprises that have ever been
formed, with those chimerical projects which princes, intoxicated
with their power, have in all ages amused themselves in forming.
I confess, that if we attentively examine the designs which have
been planned from motives of vanity, confidence in good fortune,
ignorance, nay, from sloth, and even timidity itself, we must be
surprised at beholding sovereigns plunged blindly into schemes,
specious perhaps in appearance, but which at bottom have not
the least degree of possibility. The mind of man, with so much
complacency, nay, even with so much ardour, pursues whatever
it fancies great or beautiful that it is sorry to realise that these
objects have frequently nothing real or solid in them. But in
this, as well as in other things, there is an opposite extreme to be
avoided; namely, that as we usually fail in the execution of
great designs, from not commencing and continuing them with
sufficient vigour and spirit, so likewise we are defective in the
knowledge of their true worth and tendency, because we do not
thoroughly and properly consider them in all their dependencies
and consequences. I have myself been more difficult to persuade
in this matter than perhaps any of those who shall read these
Memoirs, and this I consider as an effect of that cold, cautious
and unenterprising temper, which makes so considerable a part
of my character.
I remember the first time the king spoke to me of a political
system, by which all Europe might be regulated and governed as
one great family, I scarce paid any attention to what he said,
imagining that he meant no more by it than merely to divert
himself, or perhaps to shew that his thoughts on political subjects
26 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
were greater and penetrated deeper than most others : and my
reply was a. mixture of pleasantry and compliment. Henry said
no more at that time. He often confessed to me afterwards, that
he had long concealed from me what he meditated on this subject,
from a sense of shame, which many labour under, lest they should
disclose designs which might appear ridiculous or impossible. I
was astonished when, some time after, he renewed our conversa-
tion on this head and continued from year to year to entertain
me with new regulations and new improvements in this scheme.
I had been very far from thinking seriously about it. If by
accident it came into my thoughts for a moment, the first view
of the design, which conceived a re-union of all the different
states of Europe; immense expenses, at a time when France
could scarce supply her own necessities; a concatenation of
events, which to me appeared infinite : these were considerations
which had always made me reject the thought as vain. I even
apprehended there was some illusion in it, and I recollected some
of those enterprises in which we had endeavoured to engage
Europe. I considered those in particular which had been formed
by some of our kings, from much less considerable motives, and
I felt myself disgusted with this, from the bad success of all the
former. The disposition of the princes of Europe to take umbrage
against France, when she would have assisted them to dissipate
their fears from the too great power of Spain, this alone to me
appeared an unsurmountable obstacle.
Strongly prejudiced by this opinion, I used my utmost efforts
to undeceive Henry, who, on his side, surprised not to find me of
his sentiment in any one point, immediately undertook, and
readily succeeded in convincing me that my thus indiscriminately
condemning all parts of his project, in which he was certain that
every thing at least was not blameable, could proceed from
nothing but strong prejudices. I could not refuse, at his solicita-
tions, to use my endeavours to gain a thorough comprehension
of it. I formed a clearer plan of it in my mind. I collected and
united all its different branches. I studied all its proportions and
dimensions, if I may say so, and I discovered in them a regularity
and mutual dependence, of which, when I had only considered
the design in a confused and careless manner, I had not been at
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 27
all sensible. The benefit which would manifestly arise from it to
all Europe was what most immediately struck me, as being in
effect the plainest and most evident; but the means to effect so
good a design were, therefore, what I hesitated at the longest.
The general situation of the affairs of Europe, and of our own in
particular, appeared to me every way contrary to the realisation
of the project. I did not consider that, since the execution of the
scheme might be deferred till a proper opportunity, we could
prepare ourselves with all those resources which time affords to
those who know how to make the best use of it. I was at last
convinced, that however disproportionate the means might appear
to the effect, a course of years, during which every thing should
as much as possible be made subservient, to the great object in
view, would surmount many difficulties. It is indeed somewhat
extraordinary that this point, which appeared to be and really
was the -most difficult of any, should at last become the most
Having thus seen all parts of the design in their just points of
view, having thoroughly considered and calculated and from
thence discovered and prepared for all events which might
happen, I found myself confirmed in the opinion, that the design
of Henry the Great was, upon the whole, just in its intention,
possible and even practicable in all its parts, and infinitely
glorious in all its effects. So that, upon all occasions, I was the
first to recall the king to his engagements, and sometimes to
convince him by those very arguments which he himself had
The constant attention this prince paid to all affairs transacted
round him arising from those singularly unhappy circumstances
by which, in almost every instant of his life, he found himself
embarrassed, had been the cause of his forming this design even
from the time when, being called to the crown by the death of
Henry III. he considered the humbling of the house of Austria
as absolutely necessary for his security. Yet, if he was not
beholden to Elizabeth for his thought of the design, it is, however,
certain that this great queen had herself conceived it long before,
as a means to avenge Europe for the attempts of its common
enemy. The troubles in which all the following years were
28 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
engaged, the war which succeeded in 1595, and that against Savoy
after the peace of Vervins, forced Henry into difficulties which
obliged him to lay aside all thoughts of other affairs; and it was
not till after his marriage and the firm re-establishment of peace,
that he renewed his thoughts upon his first design, the execution
of which appeared then more impossible, or at least more
improbable, than ever.
He, nevertheless, communicated it by letters to Elizabeth, and
this was what inspired them with so strong an inclination to
confer together in 1601 when this princess came to Dover and
Henry to Calais. What the ceremony of an interview would not
have permitted them to do I at last begun by the voyage which
I made to this princess. I found her deeply engaged in the
means by which this great design might be successfully executed ;
and, notwithstanding the difficulties which she apprehended in its
two principal points, namely, the agreement of religions- and the
equality of the powers, she did not to me appear at all to doubt
of its success. This she chiefly expected, for a reason of the
justness of which I have since been well convinced, namely, that
as the plan was only contrary to the design of some princes, whose
ambitious views were sufficiently known to all Europe, this fact
would rather promote than retard its success. She farther said,
that its execution by any other means than that of arms would
be very desirable, as this has always something odious in it : but
she confessed that indeed it would be hardly possible to begin it
otherwise. A very great number of the articles, conditions,
and different dispositions is due to this queen and sufficiently
shew, that in respect of wisdom, penetration, and all the other
perfections of the mind, she was not inferior to any king the most
truly deserving of that title.
~ft must indeed be considered as a very great misfortune that
Henry could not at this time second the intention of the queen
of England, who wished to have the design put in immediate
execution ; but when he thus laid the foundation of the edifice
he scarcely hoped to see the time when the finishing hand would
be put to it. The recovery of his own kingdom from the various
maladies by which it was afflicted was a work of several years ;
and unhappily he had himself seen forty-eight when he began it.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 29
He pursued it, nevertheless, with the greatest vigour. The edict
of Nantes had been published with this view and every other
means was used which might gain the respect and confidence of
the princes of Europe. Henry and I, at the same time, applied
ourselves with indefatigable labour to regulate the interior affairs
of the kingdom. We considered the death of the king of Spain (/)
as the most favourable event that could happen to our design,
but it received so violent a shock by the death of Elizabeth, as
almost made us abandon all our hopes. Henry had no expecta-
tion that the powers of the North nor king James, the successor
to Elizabeth, when he was acquainted with his character, would
any of them so readily consent to support him in his design, as
this princess had done. However, the new allies whom he daily
gained in Germany (g), and even in Italy, comforted him a little
for the loss of Elizabeth. The truce (h) between Spain and the
Low Countries may also be numbered among the incidents
favourable to it.
Yet, if we consider all the obstacles which afterwards arose in
his own kingdom, from the protestants, the catholics, the clergy,
nay, even from his own council, it will appear as if all things
conspired against it. Could it be imagined that Henry, in his
whole council, should not find one person besides myself to whom
he could, without danger, disclose the whole of his designs? or
that the respect due to him could scarcely restrain those
apparently most devoted to his service from treating as wild and
extravagant chimeras whatever of the plan he had, with greatest
circumspection, revealed to them? But nothing discouraged
Henry, who was an able politician and a better judge than all his
council and kingdom. When he perceived that, notwithstanding
all these obstacles, affairs began, both at home and abroad, to
appear in a favourable situation, he then considered the success
Nor will this his judgment, when thoroughly considered, be
found so presumptuous as from a slight examination it may to
some appear. For what did he hereby require of Europe?
(/) Philip II. of Spain died in 1598.
(g) Notably Maurice of Hesse, the Elector Palatine, the Duke of Wurtem-
burg, and the Elector of Brandenburg.
(h) In 1609.
30 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
Nothing more than that Europe should promote the means
whereby he proposed to stabilise Christendom in that position
towards which it had, by his efforts, been tending for some time.
These means he rendered so easy of execution that for their fulfil-
ment there would be required scarcely as much as the princes
of Europe would voluntarily sacrifice for advantages less real,
certain or durable. What they would gain by it, besides the
inestimable benefits arising from peace, would greatly exceed all
the expenses they would incur. What reason then could any of
them have to oppose it? and, if they did not oppose it, how could
the house of Austria support itself against powers who would have
risen as open and secret enemies in the hope of depriving it of
that strength which it had used only to oppress them? In other
words, the house of Austria would have to face a united and
hostile Europe. Nor would these princes have any reason to.be
jealous of the restorer cf their liberty, for he was so far from
seeking to re-imburse himself for all the expenses which his
generosity would hereby involve, that his intention was voluntarily
and for ever to relinquish all power of augmenting his dominions,
not only by conquest, but by all other just and lawful means.
By this he would have convinced all his neighbours that
his whole design was to save, both himself and them, those
immense sums which the maintenance of so many thousand
soldiers, so many fortified places, and so many military expenses
requires; to free them for ever from the fear of those bloody
catastrophes so common in Europe; to procure them an unin-
terrupted repose ; and, finally, to unite them all in an indissoluble
bond of security and friendship, after which they might live
together like brethren, and reciprocally visit like good neighbours
without the trouble of ceremony and without the expense of a
train of attendants which princes use at best only for ostentation
and frequently to conceal their misery. Does it not indeed reflect
shame and reproach on a people who affect to be so polished
and refined in their manners that all their pretended improve-
ments have not yet guarded them from these barbarities which
they detest in nations the most savage and uncultivated? To
destroy these pernicious seeds of confusion and disorder, and
prevent the barbarities of which they are the cause, could any
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 31
scheme have been more happily and perfectly contrived than that
of Henry the Great?
Here then is all that could be reasonably expected or required.
It is only in the power of man to prepare and act, success is the
work of a more mighty hand. Sensible people cannot be blamed
for being prejudiced in favour of the scheme in question, from
this circumstance only, that it was formed by the two potentates
whom posterity will always consider as the most perfect models
of the art of governing. In regard to,. Henry in particular I insist
that it belongs only to princes who, like him, have had a constant
succession of obstacles to encounter in all their designs. These
are the princes who alone are privileged to judge what are> real
obstacles; and when we behold them willing to lay down their
lives in support of their opinions, surely we may abide by their
sentiments, without fear of being deceived. For my own part,
I shall always think with regret that France, by the blow which it
received from the loss of this great prince, was deprived of a glory
far superior to that which his reign had acquired. There remains
only to explain the several parts of the design, and the manner
in which they were to be executed. We will begin by what
relates to religion.
Two religions principally prevail in Christendom, the Eoman
and the Eeformed ; but, as this latter admits of several variations
in its worship, which render it, if not as uniform as the roman,
at least as far from being re-united, it is therefore necessary to
divide it in two, one of which may be called the reformed, and
the other the protestant religion (i). The manner in which these
three religions prevail in Europe is extremely various. Italy and
Spain remain in possession of the roman religion, pure and
without mixture of any other. The reformed religion subsists in
France with the roman, only under favour of the edicts, and is
the weakest. England, Denmark, Sweden, the Low Countries,
and Switzerland, have also a mixture of the same kind, but with
this difference, that in them the protestant is the governing
religion, the others are only tolerated. Germany unites all these
and in several of its circles, as well as in Poland, shews them
equal favour. I say nothing of Muscovy and Eussia. These vast
(i) That is, the Calvinist and the Lutheran.
32 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
countries, which are not less than six hundred leagues in length
and four hundred in breadth, being in great part still idolaters,
and in part schismatics, such as Greeks and Armenians, have
introduced so many superstitious practices in their worship,
that there scarce remains any conformity with us among them;
besides, they belong to Asia at least as much as to Europe.
We may indeed almost consider them as a barbarous country,
and place them in the same class with Turkey, though for these
five hundred years, we have ranked them among the Christian
Each of these three religions being now established in Europe
in such a manner that there is not the least appearance that any
of them can be destroyed and experience having sufficiently
demonstrated the inutility and danger of such an enterprise, the
best therefore that can be done, is to preserve, and even
strengthen all of them in such a manner that indulgence may
not become an encouragement to the production of new sects or
opinions which should carefully be suppressed on their first
appearance. God Himself, by manifestly supporting what the
catholics were pleased to call the new religion, has taught us this
conduct which is not less conformable to the Holy Scripture than
confirmed by its examples; and besides, the unsurmountable
difficulty of forcing the pope's authority where it is no longer
acknowledged renders what is here proposed absolutely necessary.
Several cardinals equally sagacious and zealous and even some
popes as Clement VIII. and Paul V. were of this opinion (/c).
All therefore that remains now to be done is to strengthen the
nations who have made choice of one of these religions in the
principles they profess, as there is nothing in all respects so
pernicious as a liberty in belief; and those nations, whose
inhabitants profess several or all these religions should be careful
to observe those rules necessary to remedy the ordinary incon-
veniences of a toleration in other respects beneficial. Italy,
therefore, professing the roman religion and being moreover the
residence of the popes, should preserve this religion in all its
purity, and there would be no hardship in obliging all its
(k) Though it was Clement VIII. who absolved Henry, neither he nor his
successor, Paul V. can be credited with very advanced views on toleration.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 33
inhabitants either to conform to it or quit the country. The same
regulations, very nearly, might be observed in regard to Spain.
In such states as that of France where there is at least a govern-
ing religion, whoever should think the regulation too severe, by
which calvinism would be always subordinate to the religion of
their prince, might be permitted to depart the country. No new
regulations would be necessary in any of the other nations, no
violence on this account, but liberty unrestrained, seeing this
liberty is become even a fundamental principle in their
Thus we may perceive every thing on this head might be
reduced to a few maxims, so much the more certain and invari-
able, as they were not contrary to the sentiments of any one.
The protestants are very far from pretending to force their
religion upon any of their neighbours by whom it is not volun-
tarily embraced. The catholics doubtless are of the same
sentiments, and the pope would receive no injury in being
deprived of what he confesses himself not to have possessed for
a long time. His sacrificing these chimerical rights would be
abundantly compensated by the regal dignity with which it would
be proper to invest him and by the honour of being afterwards the
common mediator between all the Christian princes, a dignity
which he would then enjoy without jealousy and for which it
must be confessed the papal office has shown itself, by sagacious
conduct, most peculiarly fitted.
Another point of the political scheme which also concerns
religion, relates to the infidel princes of Europe, and consists
in forcing out of it those who refuse to conform to any of the
Christian doctrines of religion. Should the grand duke of Mus-
covy or czar of Russia, who is believed to be the ancient khan
of Scythia, refuse to enter into the association after it is proposed
to him, he ought to be treated like the Sultan of Turkey, deprived
of his possessions in Europe, and confined to Asia only, where he
might, as long as he pleased, and without any interruption from
us, continue the wars in which he is almost constantly engaged
against the Turks and Persians.
(I) That is, so long as their rulers neither change their religion nor are
succeeded by rulers of a different religion. Sully 's view on toleration is simply
the orthodox " cujus regio, eius religio."
34 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
To succeed in the execution of this plan will not appear difficult
if we suppose that all the Christian princes unanimously concurred
in it. It would only be necessary for each of them to contribute,
in proportion to their several abilities, towards the support of the
forces and all the other incidental expenses which the success of
such an enterprise might require. These respective quotas were
to have been determined by a general council of which we shall
speak hereafter. The following is what Henry the Great had
himself conceived on this head. The pope for this expedition
should have furnished eight thousand foot, twelve hundred horse,
ten cannons, and ten galleys; the emperor and the circles of
Germany, sixty thousand foot, twenty thousand horse, five large
cannons, and ten galleys or other vessels; the king of France,
twenty thousand foot, four thousand horse, twenty cannons, and
ten ships or galleys; Spain, Britain, Denmark, Sweden, and
Poland, the like number with France, observing only, that these
powers should together supply what belonged to the sea-service in
the manner most suitable to their respective conveniences and
abilities therein; the king of Bohemia, five thousand foot, fifteen
hundred horse, and five cannons; the king of Hungary, twelve
thousand foot, five thousand horse, twenty cannons, and six
ships; the duke of Savoy, or king of Lombardy, eight thousand
foot, fifteen hundred horse, eight cannons, and six galleys; the
republic of Venice, ten thousand foot, twelve hundred horse, ten
cannons, and twenty -five galleys ; the republic of the Swiss
cantons, fifteen thousand foot, five thousand horse, and twelve
cannons; the republic of Holland, twelve thousand foot, twelve
hundred horse, twelve cannons, and twelve ships; the Italian
republics, ten thousand foot, twelve hundred horse, ten cannons,
and eight galleys ; the whole together amounting to about two
hundred and seventy thousand foot, fifty thousand horse, two
hundred cannons, and one hundred and twenty ships or galleys,
equipped and maintained at the expense of those powers, each
contributing according to his particular proportion.
This armament of the princes and states of Europe appears so
inconsiderable and so little burdensome, when compared with the
forces which they usually keep on foot to awe their neighbours,
or perhaps their own subjects, that were it to have subsisted,
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 35
even perpetually, it would not have occasioned any inconvenience
and would have been an excellent military academy. But since
the enterprises for which it was destined, would not always have
continued, the number and expense might have been diminished
in proportion to the necessities which would have remained a con-
stant factor. Moreover I am convinced that such an armament
would have been so highly approved of by all these princes that
after they had, with its help, conquered all those territories in
Europe (which they would not willingly share with a stranger),
they would seek to unite with these conquests such parts of Asia
as are most commodiously situated and particularly the whole
coast of Africa which is too near to our territories for our complete
security. The only precaution to be observed in regard to these
additional countries would have been to form them into new
kingdoms, declare them united with the rest of the Christian
powers, and bestow them on different princes, carefully observing
to exclude those who before bore rank among the sovereigns of
That part of the design which may be considered as purely
political turned almost entirely on a first preliminary which, I
think, would not have met with more difficulty than the preceding
article. This was to divest the house of Austria of the empire
and of all the possessions in Germany, Italy, and the Low
Countries; in a word, to reduce it to the sole kingdom of Spain,
bounded by the ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Pyrenean
mountains. But that it might, nevertheless, be 'equally powerful
with the other sovereignties of Europe, it;^ should have Sardinia,
Majorca, Minorca; and, in the other islands on its own coasts,
the Canaries, the Azores, and Cape-Verde, with its possessions
in Africa, Mexico and the American islands belonging to it :
countries, which alone might suffice to found great kingdoms,
finally, the Philippines, Goa, the Moluccas, and its other posses-
sions in Asia.
From hence a method seems to present itself whereby the house
of Austria might be made amends for what it would be deprived
of in Europe, which is to increase its dominions in the three other
parts of the world by assisting it to obtain and by declaring it the
sole proprietor both of what we do know and what we may here-
36 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
after discover in those parts. We may suppose that on this
occasion it would not have been necessary to use force to bring
this house to concur in such a design and, indeed, even on this
supposition it was not the prince of this house reigning in Spain,
to whom these parts of the world were to be subjected, but to
different princes, of the same or of different branches, who in
acknowledgment of their possessions should only have rendered
homage to the crown of Spain or, at most, a tribute as due to
the original conquerors. This house, which is so very desirous of
being the most powerful in the world, might hereby have con-
tinued to natter itself with so pleasing a pre-eminence without
the other powers being endangered by its pretended grandeur.
The steps taken by the house of Austria to arrive at universal
monarchy which evidently appear from the whole conduct of
Charles V. and his son have rendered this severity as just as it is
necessary and I will venture to say that this house would not
have had any reasonable cause to complain of it. It is true it
would be deprived of the empire; but impartially considered it
will appear that all the other princes of Germany and even of
Europe have an equal right to it. Were it necessary to prove this
we need only recollect on what conditions Charles V. himself, the
most powerful of them all, was acknowledged emperor; con-
ditions, which, at Smalcalde, he solemnly swore to observe, in
presence of seven princes or electors and the deputies of twenty-
four protestant towns, the landgrave of Hesse and the prince of
Anhalt being speakers for them all. He swore never to act
contrary to the established laws of the empire, particularly the
famous Golden Bull, obtained under Charles IV., unless it were
to amplify them and even that only with the express consent and
advice of the sovereign princes of Germany; not to infringe nor
deprive them of any of their privileges ; not to introduce foreigners
into their council ; not to make either war or peace without their
consent; not to bestow honours and employments but on natives
of Germany ; not to use any other but the German language in all
writings; not to levy any taxes by his own authority, nor apply
any conquests which might be made, to his own particular profit.
He, in particular, formally renounced all pretences of hereditary
right in his house to the imperial dignity and according to the
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 37
several articles of the golden bull he swore never in his life -time
to recognize a king of the Romans. When the protestants of
Germany, after they had in a manner driven Ferdinand out
of it, consented to have the imperial crown placed on his head,
they were careful to make him renew his engagements in regard
to all these articles and to all these new regulations relative to
the free exercise of their religion.
As to the possessions of the house of Austria in Germany, Italy,
and the Low Countries, acquired by tyrannical usurpation, it
would, after all, be only depriving it of territories which it keeps
at so prodigious an expense (I speak, in particular, of Italy and
the Low Countries) as all its treasures of the Indies have not been
able to defray : and besides, by investing it with the exclusive
privilege above-mentioned, of gaining new establishments and
appropriating to its own use the mines and treasures of the three
other parts of the world, it would be abundantly indemnified; for
these new acquisitions would be at least as considerable, and
undoubtedly far more rich, than those already held. But what is
here proposed must not be understood as if the other nations of
Europe were excluded from all commerce with those countries;
on the contrary, it should be free and open to every one and the
house of Austria, instead of considering this stipulation, which is
of the greatest consequence, as an infringement of its privileges,
would rather have reason to regard it as a farther advantage.
Prom a farther examination and consideration of these dis-
positions I do not doubt but the house of Austria would have
accepted the proposed conditions without being forced to it; but,
supposing the contrary, what would a resistance have signified?
The promise made to all the princes of Europe of enriching
themselves by the territories of which this house was to be
divested, would deprive it of all hopes of assistance from any of
Upon the whole then it appears that all parties would have
been gainers by it and this was what assured Henry the Great of
the success of his design. The empire would again become a
dignity to which all princes, but particularly those of Germany,
might aspire. This dignity would become so much the more
desirable that, although in accordance with its original institution
38 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
no revenues would be annexed to it, the emperor would be
declared the first and chief magistrate of the whole Christian
republic. And as we may suppose this honour would afterwards
be conferred only on the most worthy, all his privileges in this
respect, instead of being diminished, would be enlarged; his
authority over the Belgic and Helvetic republics would be more
considerable and upon every new election they would be obliged
to render him a respectful homage. The electors would still con-
tinue to enjoy the right of electing the emperor as well as of
maintaining the king of the Romans ; with this restriction only,
that the election should not be made twice together out of the
same family. The first to have been elected in this manner was
the elector of Bavaria (m), who was also, in consequence of the
partition, to have had those territories possessed by the house of
Austria which joined to his own on the side of Italy.
The rest of these territories were to have been divided and
equally distributed by the kings of France, England, Denmark,
and Sweden among the Venetians (ri), the Grisons (o), the duke
of Wurtemburg, and the marquis of Baden, Anspach, and Dour-
lach (p). Bohemia was to have been constituted an elective
kingdom by annexing to it Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia.
Hungary was also to have been an elective kingdom and the pope,
the emperor, the kings of France, England, Denmark, Sweden,
and Lombardy were to have had the right of nomination to it
and because this kingdom may be considered as the barrier of
Christendom against the infidels, it was to have been rendered
the most powerful and able to resist them. This was to have
been done by adding to it the monarchy of Austria, Styria,
Carinthia, and Carniola and by afterwards incorporating with it
(m) Of the German princes, the Elector of Bavaria was the most consistent
ally of France at the time when Sully was compiling his Memoirs. On several
occasions he was the French nominee for the imperial dignity.
(n) Traditionally at enmity with her Spanish and Italian neighbours, the
policy of Venice constantly gravitated to alliance with France. Moreover, she
was the one " liberal " State in an ultramontane world.
(o) The Grisons were Protestants, and were of paramount importance in
Richelieu's foreign policy because they controlled one of the Alpine passes into
(p) These German princes were members of the Evangelical Union formed in
1608 to secure the religious integrity of their respective States, to vote in the
Diet as one body, to settle their own disputes by arbitration, and to maintain
an army for defence. Henry IV. was godfather of this league.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 39
whatever might be acquired in Transylvania, Bosnia, Sclavonia,
and Croatia. The same electors were to have obliged themselves,
by oath, to assist it upon all occasions and they were to have
been particularly careful never to grant their suffrages from
partiality, artifice, or intrigue but always to confer the dignity
on a prince who, by his great qualifications, particularly for war,
should be generally acknowledged as most proper. Poland being,
from its nearness to Turkey, Muscovy, and Tartary in the same
situation with Hungary was also to jbave been made an elective
kingdom by the same eight potentates ; and its power was to have
been augmented by annexing to it whatever should be conquered
from the infidels adjoining its own frontiers and by determining
in its favour those disputes which it had with all its other neigh-
bours. Switzerland, when augmented by Franche-comte", Alsace,
Tyrol, and other territories was to have been united into a
sovereign republic governed by a council or senate, of which the
emperor, the princes of Germany, and the Venetians were to
have been umpires.
The changes to be made in Italy were that the pope should be Av
declared a secular prince bearing rank among the monarchs of
Europe and under this title should possess Naples, Apulia,
Calabria and all their dependencies, which should be indissolubly
united to St. Peter's patrimony. But in case the holy father
had opposed this, which indeed could scarce have been supposed,
the disposition must then have been changed and the kingdom of
Naples would have been divided and disposed as the electoral
kings should have determined. Sicily was to have been ceded
to the republic of Venice, by letters from the same eight principal
potentates, upon condition that it should render homage for it
to every pope, who should bear the title of Immediate Chief of
the Whole Italian republic ; otherwise (for this reason) called The
republic of the Church. The other members of this republic were
to have been Genoa, Florence, Mantua, Modena, Parma and
Lucca, without any alterations in their government. Bologna
and Ferrara were to have been rendered free cities and all these
governments were every twenty years to have rendered homage
to the pope their chief, by the gift of a crucifix of the value of ten
40 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
Of the three great republics of Europe, it appears, upon the
first glance, that this would have been the most brilliant and the
richest. Nevertheless, it would not have been so; for what
belonged to the duke of Savoy was not comprised herein. His
territories were to have been constituted one of the greatest
monarchies of Europe, hereditary to males and females, and to
have borne the title of the kingdom of Lombardy; wherein,
beside the territory so called, the Milanese and Montserrat would
also have been comprised. The duke of Mantua, in exchange
for these, was to have the duchy of Cremona. An authentic
testimony of the institution would have been given by the pope,
the emperor and the other sovereigns of the Christian republic.
Among all these different dismemberings, we may observe that
France reserved nothing for itself but the glory of distributing
them with equity. Henry had declared this to be his intention
long before. He even sometimes said, with equal moderation and
good sense, that were these dispositions once firmly established,
he would have voluntarily consented to have the extent of France
determined by a majority of suffrages. Nevertheless, as the
districts of Artois, Hainault, Cambresis, Tournay, Namur and
Luxembourg might more suitably be annexed to France than to
any other nation, they were to have been ceded to Henry but
divided into ten distinct governments and bestowed on so many
French princes or lords, all of them bearing rank as sovereigns (q).
In regard to England it was precisely the same : this was a
determined point between Elizabeth and Henry, the two princes
who were authors of the scheme. This was probably due to
an observation made by this queen, that the Britannic isles, in
all the different states through which they had passed, whether
under one or several monarchs, elective, hereditary, masculine or
feminine, and among all the variations of their laws and policy,
had never experienced any great disappointments or misfortunes,
but when their sovereigns had meddled in affairs out of their little
continent. It seems, indeed, as if they were concentered in it
even by nature, and their happiness appears to depend entirely
on themselves and their having no concerns with their neighbours,
(q) Compare this with statements in second paragraph of p. 46. Sully might
have removed this inconsistency if he himself had ever reduced the scheme to
a composite whole.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 41
provided that they seek only to maintain peace in the three
nations subject to them, by governing each according to its own
laws and customs. To render every thing equal between France
and England, Brabant from the dutchy of Limbourg, the juris-
diction of Malines, and the other dependencies on Flemish
Flanders, Gallican or Imperial, were to have been formed into
eight sovereign fiefs, to be given to so many princes or lords of
These two parts except ed, all the rest of the seventeen United
Provinces, whether belonging to Spain or not, were to be erected
into a free and independent state under the title of the Belgic
republic ; though there was one other fief to be formed from them,
bearing the title of a principality, to be granted to the prince of
Orange; also some other inconsiderable indemnities for three or
four other persons. The succession of Cleves was to have been
divided among those princes whom the emperor would have
deprived of it, as well as among some other princes of the same
district, to whom the imperial towns situated therein would have
been granted. Even Sweden and Denmark, though they were to
be considered as under the influence of the same law which
England and France had imposed on themselves, would, by this
distribution, have enlarged their territories and acquired other
considerable advantages. An end would have been put to the
perpetual trouble which agitated these two kingdoms and this,
I think, would have been rendering them no inconsiderable
service. All these cessions, exchanges, and transpositions towards
the north of Germany were to have been determined by the kings
of France, England, Lombardy, and the republic of Venice.
And now perhaps the purport of the design may be perceived,
which was to divide Europe equally among a certain number of
powers and in such a manner that none of them might have cause
either of envy or fear from the possessions or power of the others.
The number of them was reduced to fifteen and they were of
three kinds : six great hereditary monarchies, five elective
monarchies, and four sovereign republics. The six hereditary
monarchies were France, Spain, England or Britain, Denmark,
Sweden, and Lombardy; the five elective monarchies were the
Empire, the Papacy or Pontificate, Poland, Hungary, and
42 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
Bohemia; the four republics were the Venetian, the Italian, or
what, from its dukes, may be called the ducal, the Swiss,
Helvetic- or Confederate, and the Belgic or Provincial republic.
The laws and ordinances proper to cement a union between
all these princes and to maintain that harmony which should be
once established among them, the reciprocal oaths and engage-
ments in regard both to religion and policy, the mutual assurances
in respect of the freedom of commerce and the measures to be
taken to make all these partitions with equity and to the general
content and satisfaction of the parties: all these matters are to
be understood; nor is it necessary to say any thing of the pre-
caution taken by Henry in regard to them. The. most that could
have happened would have been some trifling difficulties which
would easily have been obviated in the general council, represent-
ing all the states of Europe the establishment of which was
certainly the happiest invention that could have been conceived
for preventing those innovations often introduced by time into
the wisest and most useful institutions.
x The model of this general council of Europe had been formed
on that of the ancient Arnphictyons of Greece, with such altera-
tions only as rendered it suitable to our customs, climate, and
policy. It consisted of a certain number of commissaries,
ministers, or plenipotentiaries from all the governments of the
Christian republic, who were to be constantly assembled as a
senate, to deliberate on any affairs which might occur; to discuss
the different interests, pacify the quarrels, clear up and deter-
mine all the civil, political, and religious affairs of Europe,
whether within itself or with its neighbours. The form and
manner of proceeding in the senate would have been more par-
ticularly determined by the suffrages of the senate itself. Henry
was of opinion that it should be composed of four commissaries
from each of the following potentates: The Emperor, the Pope,
the kings of France, Spain, England, Denmark, Sweden, Lom-
bardy, Poland, and the republic of Venice; and of two only from
the other republics and inferior powers, which all together would
: have composed a senate of about sixty-six persons, who should
have been re-chosen every three years.
In regard to the place of meeting, it remained to have been
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 43
determined whether it would be better for the council to be fixed
or ambulatory, divided in three, or united into one. If it were
divided into three, each containing twenty-two magistrates, then
each of them must have been fixed in such a centre as should
appear to be most commodious, as Paris or Bourges for one, and
somewhere about Trente and Cracovia for the two others. If it
were judged more expedient not to divide their assembly, whether
fixed or ambulatory, it must have been nearly in the centre of
Europe and would consequently have been fixed in some one of
the fourteen cities following: Metz, Luxembourg, Nancy,
Cologne, Mayence, Troves, Francfort, Wurtzbourg, Heidelberg,
Spire, Strasbourg, Bale, Bezancon.
Besides this general council, it would perhaps have been
proper to have constituted some others, of an inferior degree, for
the particular convenience of different districts. For example,
were six such created, they might have been placed at Dantzig,
Nuremberg, Vienna, Bologna, Constance and the last, wherever
it should be judged most convenient for the kingdoms of France,
Spain, England and the Belgic republic. But whatever the
number or form of these particular councils might have been, it
would have been absolutely necessary that they should be sub-
ordinate, and recur, by appeal, to the great general council, whose
decisions, when considered as proceeding from the united authority
of all the sovereigns, pronounced in a manner equally free and
absolute, must have been regarded as so many final and
But let us quit these speculative designs, in which practice
and experience would perhaps have caused many alterations ; and
let us come to the means actually employed by Henry to facilitate
the execution of his great design.
To gain one of the most powerful princes of Europe, with whom
to concert all his designs, was what Henry had always considered
as of the utmost consequence : and this was the reason, that after
the death of Elizabeth, who had indissolubly united the interest
of the two crowns of France and England, every means was used-
which might inspire her successor, king James, with all her
sentiments. Had I but succeeded in the solemn embassy, the
particulars of which I have related already, so far as to have
44 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
gained this prince's consent to have his name appear openly with
Henry's, this military confederacy, especially if it had, in like
manner, been strengthened with the names of the kings of
Denmark and Sweden, would have prevented the troubles and
difficulties of many negotiations: but nothing farther could be
obtained of the king of England than the same promises which
were required of the other courts ; namely, that he would not only
not oppose the confederacy, but, when Henry had made his
designs public, would declare himself in his favour, and contribute
towards it in the same manner as the other powers interested
therein. A means was indeed afterwards found to obtain the
execution of this promise, in a manner so much the more easy
as it did not disturb the natural indolence of this prince. This
was, by getting what he hesitated to undertake in his own name,
executed by his son, the prince of Wales, who, as soon as he had
obtained his father's promise (that he would at least not obstruct
his proceedings), anticipated Henry's utmost wishes, being
animated with a thirst of glory, and desire to render himself
worthy of the esteem and alliance of Henry, for he was to marry
the eldest of the daughters of France. He wrote me several
letters upon this subject and expressed himself in the manner I
have mentioned. He also said that the king of France might
depend on having six thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse,
which he would undertake to bring into his service whenever they
should be required : and this number was afterwards augmented
by two thousand more foot, and eight cannons, maintained in all
respects at the expense of England for three years at least. The
king of Sweden did not shew himself less zealous for the common
cause ; and the king of Denmark also appeared to be equally well
disposed in its favour.
In the mean time we were indefatigable in our negotiations in
the different courts of Europe, particularly in the circles of
Germany and the United Provinces, where the king, for this
purpose, had sent Boisisse, Fresne-Canaye, Baugy, Ancel, and
Bongars. The council of the States were very soon unanimous in
their determinations : the prince of Orange sent the sieurs
Malderet and Brederode from them to offer the king fifteen
thousand foot and three thousand horse. They were soon followed
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 45
by the landgrave of Hesse, and the prince of Anhalt, to whom as
well as to the prince of Orange, the confederacy was obliged for
being increased by the duke of Savoy; by all of the reformed
religion in Hungary, Bohemia, and lower Austria; by many
protestant princes and towns in Germany; and by all the Swiss
Cantons of this religion. And when the succession of Cleves,
which the Emperor shewed himself disposed to usurp, became
another incentive to the confederacy, there was then scarce any
part of Germany that was not for us; which evidently appeared
from the result of the general assembly at Hall (r). The elector
of Saxony, who perhaps remained alone of the opposite party,
might have been embarrassed in an affair out of which he would
probably have found it difficult to extricate himself ; and this was
to have been done by recalling to his memory the fate of the
branch of John Frederic, deprived of this electorate by
Charles V. (s).
There were several of these powers, in regard to whom I am
persuaded nothing would have been risked, by disclosing to them
the whole intent and scope of the design. On the contrary, they
would probably have seconded it with the greater ardour when
they found the destruction of Austrian grandeur was a determined
point. These powers were more particularly the Venetians, the
United Provinces, almost all the protestant s, and especially the
evangelics of Germany. But as too many precautions could not
be taken to prevent the catholic powers from being prejudiced
against the new alliance in which they were to be engaged, a too
hasty discovery, either of the true motives, or the whole intent
of the design, was therefore cautiously avoided. It was at first
concealed from all without exception and afterwards revealed but
to a few persons of approved discretion and those only such as
were absolutely necessary to engage others to join the confederacy.
The association was for a long time spoken of to others only as a
kind of general treaty of peace, wherein such methods would be
(r) By the Treaty of Hall (1610), Henry IV. and the Evangelical Union
agreed to support the Elector of Brandenburg and Count Philip of Neuburg in
their claims to the Cleves-Julich territories.
(s} Presumably a threat. After the victory of Charles V. over the Protest-
ants at Muhlberg (1547), the electorate of Saxony was transferred from the
elder (Ernestine) to the younger (Albertine) branch of the family. There
would therefore be good precedent for depriving the Elector should he refuse
46 THE GEAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
projected as the public benefit and the general service of Europe
might suggest as necessary to stop the progress of the excessive
power of the house of Austria. Our ambassadors and agents had
orders only to demand of these princes a renewal or commence-
ment of alliance, in order more effectually to succeed in the pro-
jected peace; to consult with them upon the means whereby to
effect it ; to appear as if sent only for the purpose of joint enquiry
into the discovery of these means. According to the disposition
in which they found these princes, they were to insinuate, as if
by accidental conjecture, some notion of a new method for main-
taining the equilibrium of Europe and for securing to each religion
a more undisturbed peace than it had hitherto enjoyed. The
proposals made to the kings of England and Sweden, and the
dukes of Savoy and Lorraine, for alliances by marriage, proved
very successful : it was absolutely determined that the dauphin
should espouse the heiress of Lorraine, which dutchy still con-
tinued, as before, to depend on the Empire.
But no precaution appeared so necessary, nor was more
strongly recommended to our negotiators, than to convince all
the princes of Europe of the disinterestedness with which Henry
was resolved to act on this occasion. This point was indefatigably
laboured, and they were convinced of it, when, on the supposition
that it would be necessary to have recourse to arms, we strongly
affirmed that the forces, the treasures, and even the person of
Henry, might be depended on ; and this in a manner so generous
on his side, that, instead of expecting to be rewarded, or even
indemnified for them, he was voluntarily inclined to give the most
positive assurances, not to reserve to himself a single town, nor
the smallest district. This moderation, of which at last no one
doubted, made a suitable impression, especially when it was
perceived to be so much the more generous, as there was sufficient
to excite and satisfy the desires of all. And in the interim,
before the solemn publication of this absolute renunciation, which
was to have been made in the manifestoes that were preparing,
Henry gave a proof of it, in the form of an absolute demonstration
to the pope (t).
No one being ignorant that as it was, at least, intended to
(t) Compare this with p. 40.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. .. 47
deprive Spain of those of its usurpations which were the most
manifestly unjust (Navarre and Eousillon would infallibly revert
to France), the king therefore voluntarily offered to exchange
them for the two kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and at the same
time to make a present of both to the Pope and the republic of
Venice. This, certainly, was renouncing the most incotitestible
right he could have to any of the territories of which this Crown
was to be deprived; and by submitting this affair, as he did, to
the determination of the Pope and the Venetians, he the more
obviously obliged them, as both the honour and profit which might
arise therefrom would be in their favour. The Pope, therefore,
on the first proposition made to him, even anticipated Henry's
intentions. He immediately demanded whether, as affairs were
then circumstanced, the several powers would approve his
taking upon him the office of common mediator, to establish
peace in Europe and convert the continual wars among its several
princes into a perpetual war against the infidels. This was a part
of the design he had been very careful to acquaint him with :
and the pope sufficiently shewed that he was desirous nothing
should be done without his participation and that he was still less
disposed to refuse the advantage offered to him.
Paul V. when a favourable opportunity offered, explained
himself more openly on this head. Ubaldini, his nuncio, told
the king that his holiness, for the confederacy against the house
of Austria, would, on various pretences, engage to raise ten
thousand foot, fifteen hundred horse, and ten cannons; provided
that his majesty would promise to defray the necessary expenses
of their subsistence for three years; would give all possible
security for the cession of Naples, and the other rights of homage,
according to promise; and would sincerely consent to the other
conditions, in regard to the treaty that he should think necessary
to impose. These conditions, at least the principal of them, were,
that only catholics should be elected emperors; that the Eoman
religion should be maintained in all its rights, and ecclesiastics
in all their privileges and immunities; and that the protestants
should not be permitted to establish themselves in places where
they were not established before the treaty. The king promised
Ubaldini that he would religiously observe all these conditioiis
48 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
and farther, he relinquished to the pope the honour of being the
arbitrator of all those regulations to be made in the establishment
of the new republic.
The removing of these difficulties in regard to the pope was of
no inconsiderable consequence for his example would not fail to
be of great force in determining the other catholic powers,
especially those of Italy. Nothing was neglected which might
promote the favourable dispositions in which they appeared to be,
by punctually paying the cardinals and petty princes of Italy
their pensions, and even by adding to them several other
gratuities. The establishment of a new monarchy in Italy was
the only pretence these petty courts had for not joining in the con-
federacy; but this vain apprehension would be easily dissipated.
The particular advantages which each would acquire might alone
have satisfied them in this respect; but if not, all opposers might
have been threatened with being declared, after a certain time,
divested of all right to the proposed advantages and even of all
pretensions to the empire, or the elective kingdoms ; and that the
republics amongst them should be converted into sovereignties,
and sovereignties into republics. There is but little probability
that any of them would even have demurred what to do. The
punishment of the first offender would have compelled the sub-
mission of all these petty states, who were besides sufficiently
sensible of their impotence. But this method was not to be used
but on failure of all others; and even then, no opportunity
would have been neglected of shewing them favour.
And now we are arrived at the point to which every thing was
advanced at the fatal moment of the death of Henry the Great;
and the following is a circumstantial detail of the forces for the
war (u), which all the parties concerned had, in conjunction with
him, agreed to furnish. The contingents of the kings of England,
Sweden, and Denmark were each eight thousand foot, fifteen
hundred horse, and eight cannons, to be raised and maintained,
in all respects, at their expense, at least for three years; and this
expense, reckoning ten livres a month for each foot soldier, thirty
livres for each trooper, the pay of the officers included, and the
year to be composed of ten months, would amount, for each of
(u) Compare these figures with those already given on p. 34.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 49
these states, to three millions three hundred and seventy thousand
livres for three years ; the expense of the artillery, fifteen hundred
livres a month for each piece being also included. The princes
of Germany, before mentioned, were to furnish twenty-five
thousand foot, ten thousand horse, and forty cannons: they had
themselves computed the expense at nine or ten millions for three
years. The United Provinces, twelve thousand foot, two
thousand horse, and ten cannons : the expense twelve millions.
Hungary, Bohemia, and the other evangelics of Germany, the
same number, and nearly at the same expense. The Pope, ten
thousand foot, fifteen hundred horse, and eight cannons. The
duke of Savoy, eighteen thousand foot, two thousand horse, and
twelve cannons. The Venetians, twelve thousand foot, two
thousand horse, and twelve cannons. The expense of these last
mentioned armaments the king himself had engaged to defray.
The total of all these foreign forces, allowing for deficiencies,
which might probably have happened, would always have been,
at least one hundred thousand foot, from twenty to twenty-five
thousand horse and about one hundred and twenty cannons.
The king, on his side, had actually on foot two good and well
furnished armies; the first, which he was to have commanded in
person, consisted of twenty thousand foot, all native French,
eight thousand Switzers, four thousand Lansquenets or Walloons,
five thousand horse, and twenty cannons. The second, to be
commanded by Lesdiguieres, in the neighbourhood of the Alps,
consisted of ten thousand foot, one thousand horse, and ten
cannons ; besides a flying camp, of four thousand foot, six hundred
horse, and ten cannons; and a reserve of two thousand foot to
garrison such places where they might be necessary. We will
make a general calculation of all these troops.
The twenty thousand foot, at twenty-one livres a month to each
man, including the appointments of generals and officers, would,
by the month, require four hundred and twenty thousand livres,
and by the year, five millions and forty thousand livres ; the eight
thousand Switzers and four thousand Lasquenets, three millions ;
the five thousand horse, at sixty livres a month to each, by the
month, would require two hundred and forty thousand livres, and
by the year, two millions eight hundred and forty thousand livres.
50 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
This computation is made so high as sixty livres a month to each,
because the pay of the officers, and particularly of the king's
body-guard, composed of a thousand men of the first rank in the
kingdom, who served as volunteers, was therein included. The
expense of the twenty large cannons, six culverins, and four demi-
culverins, supposing all necessary furniture for them provided,
would amount to three thousand six hundred livres a month for
each piece ; the thirty together would consequently require one
hundred and eight thousand livres. Extraordinary expenses and
losses, in regard to the provisions and ammunition for his anny.
might be computed at one hundred and fifty thousand livres.
And for expenses, whether ordinary or extraordinary, in spies,
for sick and wounded, and other unforeseen contingencies, com-
puting at the highest, a like sum of one million eight hundred
thousand livres. To supply the deficiencies which might happen
in the armies of the confederate princes, to pay the pensions, and
to answer other particular exigencies which might arise in the
kingdom, three hundred thousand livres a month; for the year,
three millions six hundred thousand livres. The army of Les-
diguieres would require three millions a year; and as much for
each of the armies of the Pope, the Venetians, and the duke of
Savoy. These four last articles together, make twelve millions
a year; which, added to the preceding sums amount in the whole
to about thirty millions one hundred and sixty thousand livres a
It remains only to triple this total for three years, during which
it was supposed there might be occasion for the forces, and the
whole amount will appear to be between ninety and ninety-one
millions, which might perhaps be necessary to defray the expenses
of the intended war. I say perhaps, for in this calculation I have
not included the ftying camp, nor the two thousand men for
garrisons : the first of these two, at the rate of eighteen livres a
month to each foot soldier, and fifty livres to each trooper, would
require a farther sum of about one hundred and thirty thousand
livres a month ; which, for a year, would be one million five
hundred thousand livres. and four millions five hundred thousand
livres for three years : the second for the three years, would
require about twelve hundred thousand livres.
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 51
On a supposition that the expense of France, on this occasion,
would not have amounted to more than between ninety and
ninety-five millions (which supposition is far from being hazard-
ous, because we have here computed every thing at the highest it
would bear), it is easy to shew that, at the expiration of three
years, Henry would have remaining in his coffers thirty millions
over and above what would be expended, the total amount of all
the receipts from the several funds, formed and to be formed for
these three years, being one hundred "and twenty-one millions five
hundred and forty thousand livres, as appears from the three
estimates which I drew up and presented to his majesty.
The first of these estimates, which contained only a list of the
sums actually deposited in the Bastile, amounted to twenty-two
millions four hundred and sixty thousand livres, in several coffers,
marked Phelipeaux, Puget, and Bouhier. The second was
another list of the sums actually due from the farmers (v), par-
tisans, and receivers-general which might be considered as in
possession, and produced another total of eighteen millions six
hundred and thirteen thousand livres. These two totals together
made forty-one millions seventy-three thousand livres which the
king would immediately have at his disposal. To acquire the rest
of these hundred and twenty-one millions, I had no recourse, in
the third estimate, to any new taxations. The whole remainder
would arise solely from the offers of augmentation upon the
several royal revenues which the farmers and partisans (w) had
made for a lease of three years, and from what the officers of
justice and the finances had voluntarily engaged to furnish,
provided they might be permitted the free enjoyment of certain
privileges : so that in these one hundred twenty-one millions, I
had not comprehended the three years receipts of the other royal
revenues. And in case it were afterwards necessary to have
recourse to means somewhat more burthensorne, I had given the
king another estimate, whereby, instead of these one hundred and
(v) That is, the tax-farmers.
(w) The " partisans " were a hated class who, when ready money was short,
would advance a portion ("parti") of the expected total yield of a tax and
then recoup themselves by extracting the full amount of the tax from those on
whom it was levied. Although Sully, as Superintendent of Finance, effected
several reforms, he was never able to eradicate the vicious system by which, in
flic absence of a civil service, the taxes were battened upon by a host of human
52 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
twenty-one millions, it appeared that one hundred and seventy-five
millions might have been raised. I also demonstrated, that, upon
any pressing emergency, this kingdom could open itself resources
of treasure that are almost innumerable.
It was very much to be wished that the sums of money and the
number of men to be furnished by the other confederates would
be equally well secured by such estimates. But whatever
deficiencies might have happened, having forty-one millions to
distribute wherever it might be found necessary, what obstacles
could Henry have to fear from a power which was known to be
destitute of money, and even of troops? no one being ignorant,
that the best and most numerous forces which Spain had in its
service were drawn from Sicily, Naples, and Lombardy or else
were Germans, Switzers, and Walloons.
Every thing therefore concurring to promote success, and good
magazines being placed in proper parts of the passage, the king
was on the point of marching, at the head of his army, directly
to Mezieres; from whence, taking his route by Clinchamp,
Orchimont, Beauraing, Offais, Longpre, &c. after having caused
five forts to be erected in these quarters, and therein placed his
two thousand men destined for that purpose, with the necessary
provisions 'and ammunition, he would, near Duren and Stavelo,
have joined the two armies, which the princes of Germany and
the United Provinces would have caused to inarch thither. There-
upon beginning by occupying all those passages through which the
enemy might find entrance into the territories of Juliers and
Cleves. these principalities, which were a pretext for the
armament, would consequently have immediately submitted to
him and would have been sequestrated, till it should appear how
the Emperor and the king of Spain would act in regard to the
designs of the confederate princes.
This was the moment fixed on to publish and make known
throughout Europe, the declarations, in form of manifestoes,
which were to open the eyes of all in regard to their true interests
and the real motives which had caused Henry and the confederate
princes thus to take up arms. These manifestoes were composed
with the greatest care; a spirit of justice, honesty, and good faith,
of disinterestedness and good policy, were every where apparent
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 53
in them. Without wholly revealing the several changes intended
to be made in Europe, it was intimated that their common
interest had thus compelled its princes to arm themselves ; not
only to prevent the house of Austria from getting possession of
Cleves, but also to divest her of the United Provinces, and of
whatever else she unjustly possessed ; that their intentions were
to distribute these territories among such princes and states as
were the weakest ; that the design was such, as could not surely
give occasion to a war in Europe ; thai;, though armed, the kings of
France and the North rather chose to be mediators in the causes
of complaint which Europe, through them, made against the house
of Austria, and only fought amicably to determine all differences
subsisting among the several princes ; and that whatever was
done on this occasion should be not only with the unanimous
consent of all these powers, but even of all their people, who
were hereby invited to give in their opinions to the confederate
princes. Such also would have been the substance of the circular
letters which Henry and the associated princes would at the same
time send to all places subject to them ; that so the people
being informed, and joining their suffrages, a universal cry from
all parts of Christendom would have been raised against the house
As it was determined to avoid, with the utmost caution, what-
ever might give umbrage to any one, and Henry being desirous
to give still more convincing proofs to his confederates that to
promote their true interests was his sole study and design; to
these letters already mentioned he would have added others to
be written to different courts, particularly to the electors of
Cologne and Treves, the bishops of Munster, Liege, and Paderborn
and the duke and duchess of Lorraine. This conduct would have
been pursued in regard even to our enemies, in the letters which
were to be written to the archduke, and the infanta his wife, to
the Emperor himself, and to all the Austrian princes, requesting
them, from the strongest and most pressing motives, to embrace
the only right and reasonable party. In all places, nothing would
have been neglected, to instruct, convince, and gain confidence;
the execution of all engagements, and the distribution or seques-
tration of whatever territories might require to be so disposed
54 THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
would have been strictly, and even scrupulously, observed; force
would never have been employed, till arguments, entreaties,
embassies, and negotiations should have failed; finally, even in
the use of arms, it would have been not as enemies, but pacifiers.
The queen would have advanced as far as Metz, accompanied by
the whole court, and attended by such pomp and equipage as were
suitable only to peace.
Henry had projected a new method of discipline in his camp,
which very probably would have produced the good effects
intended by it, especially if his example had been imitated by the
other princes his allies. He intended to have created four
marshals of France, or at least four camp marshals, whose sole
care should have been to maintain universal order, discipline, and
subordination. The first of these would have had the inspection
of the cavalry, the second of the French infantry, the third of the
foreign forces, and the fourth of whatever concerned the artillery,
ammunition, and provisions and the king would have required an
exact and regular account from these officers of whatever was
transacted by them in their respective divisions. He applied
himself with equal ardour to make all military virtues revered arid
honoured in his army by granting all employs and places of trust
to merit only, by preferring good officers, by rewarding good
soldiers, by punishing blasphemies and other impious language,
by shewing a regard both for his own troops and those of his
confederates, by stifling a spirit of discord, caused by a difference
or religions and, finally, by uniting emulation with that harmony
of sentiments which contributes more than all the rest to obtain
The consequence of this enterprise, with regard to war, would
have depended on the manner in which the Emperor and the
king of Spain would receive the propositions and their reply to the
manifestoes of the confederate princes. It seems probable that
the emperor, submitting to force, would have consented to every
thing. I am even persuaded he would have been the first to
demand an amicable interview with the king of France, that he
might at least extricate himself with honour out of the difficulties
in which he would have been involved and he would probably
have been satisfied with assurances that the imperial dignity, with
MEMOIRS OF THE DUKE OF SULLY. 55
all its rights and prerogatives, should be secured to him for his
life. The archdukes had made great advances; they engaged to
permit the king, with all his troops, to enter their territories and
towns, provided they committed no hostilities in them and paid
punctually, in all places, for whatever they required. If these
appearances were not deceitful, Spain being abandoned by all,
must, though unwillingly, have submitted to the will of its con-
But it may be supposed, that all the branches of the house of
Austria would, on this occasion, have united, and, in defence of
their common interests, would have used all the efforts of which
they were capable. In this case, Henry and the confederate
princes would declare war in form against their enemies and
deprived the Spaniards of all communications, especially with
the Low Countries after having, as we have said, united all their
forces, given audience to the princes of Germany, promised assist-
ance to the people of Hungary and Bohemia who should come to
implore it of them, and finally, secured the territory of Cleves.
These princes would then have caused their three armies to
advance towards Bale and Strasbourg to support the Switzers,
who after having, for form's sake, asked leave of the emperor,
would have declared for the union. The United Provinces, though
at a considerable distance from these armies, would yet have been
sufficiently defended by the flying camp, which Henry would have
caused to advance towards them, by the arms of England and
the North, to whose protection they would be entrusted, by the
care which at first would have been taken to get possession of
Charlemont, Maestricht, Namur, and other places near the
Meuse, and finally, by the naval forces of these provinces, which,
in conjunction with those of England, would have reigned absolute
masters at sea.
These measures being taken, the war could have fallen only in
Italy or German} 7 and supposing it to have happened in the
former, the three armies of Henry, the prince of Orange, and the
princes of Germany, quitting Franche-Comte, after having for-
tified it in the same manner as the Low Countries by a small
body of troops, would have marched with their forces towards the
Alps, where they would have been joined by those of Lesdiguieres,
.)(') THE GRAND DESIGN OF HENRY IV.
the pope, the Venetians, and the duke of Savoy. These latter
would then have declared themselves openly ; the duke of Savoy,
by requiring a portion for his duchess, equal to what had been
given to the infanta Isabella and the other powers, by demanding
the execution of the agreement in regard to Navarre, Naples, and
Sicily. Thus, from all parts of Europe, war would be
declared against Spain. If the enemy should appear inclined to
draw the war into Germany, then the confederates, having left a
considerable number of troops in Italy, would have penetrated
even into the heart of Germany, where, from Hungary and
Bohemia, they would have been strengthened by those powerful
succours which were there preparing.
The other events, in consequence of these dispositions, can only
be conjectured, because they would greatly depend on the degree
of alacrity with which the enemy should oppose the rapidity of
our conquests and on the readiness with which the confederates,
especially those at the extremity of Germany, should make good
their engagements. Nevertheless, I am persuaded that, from the
dispositions as here laid down, there are none but must regard
the house of Austria as penetrated by the blow whose force was
for ever to annihilate its power and open a passage to the execu-
tion of the other projected designs, to which tins attack could
only be considered as the preliminary. I will add too (and here
the voice of all Europe will vindicate me from the imputation of
partiality) that if the force necessary to render such an enterprise
successful does always depend on the person of the chief who
conducts it, this could not have been better conferred than upon
Henry the Great. With a valour alone capable of surmounting
the greatest difficulties and a presence of mind which neither
neglected nor lost any opportunities ; with a prudence which,
without precipitating any thing, or attempting too many things
at a time, could regularly connect them together and perfectly
knew what might and what might not be the result of time ; with
a consummate experience ; and finally, with all those other great
qualifications, whether as a warrior or politician, which were so
remarkable in this prince; what is there which might not have
been obtained? This was the meaning of that modest device
which this great king caused to be inscribed on some of the last
medals that were struck under his reign, Nil sine consilio.
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